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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tanzanian National Heads To Prison In Tax Fraud Scheme Involving Nearly 700 Victims

HOUSTON - Tanzanian national Amon Rweyemamu Mtaza, of Houston, has been ordered to prison following his conviction of  conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Mtaza pleaded guilty Sept. 16, 2014.

Today, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Mtaza a 63-month sentence for the conspiracy and wire fraud charges to be served concurrently. He also received an additional two years for the aggravated identity theft conviction which will be served consecutively to the other sentence imposed resulting in a 87-month federal prison sentence.

As part of the sentence, the court also signed a final order of forfeiture for a 2006 Maserati and a 2007 Mercedes Benz s550 as proceeds gained from the illegal scheme and ordered Mtaza to pay $404,409 in restitution. In handing down the sentence, Judge Miller considered the numerous victim impact statements that were submitted and the extent of the scheme.

Mtaza is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.

At the time of his plea, Mtaza admitted he ran a stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) scheme that targeted more than 600 people and involved the filing of hundreds of fraudulent tax returns. Mtaza used stolen and unlawfully obtained personal identity information, including the names and Social Security numbers, of true persons to prepare fraudulent U.S. income tax returns. The returns were electronically filed in order to generate and obtain tax refunds to which he was not entitled. Mtaza then either directed the fraudulently obtained tax refunds to be deposited onto reloadable debit cards or disbursed as U.S. Treasury checks and used the monies to obtain cash and goods for his own benefit.

The tax refund filings account for an intended loss of more than $1.8 million with an actual loss of $404,409 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). A total of 685 victims were identified as victims in Mtaza’s scheme.

Mtaza will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

This case was investigated and prosecuted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS - Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting this case.

Updated April 30, 2015